Outer space has typically been viewed as a shared region by every country on Earth. Beginning with the Outer Space Treaty in 1967 being the first important space law, no country has supreme legal authority over space. In addition, the moon and planets can only be used for peaceful purposes and can not be owned by any nation. Initially, it was incredibly expensive to travel to space and only government rockets and satellites could afford to reach space.
However, the cost of rockets and satellite materials has dramatically diminished and more venture capital money is now being invested in space activities. These new changes have forced governments to alter the way they look at space as well.
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Space Law Opens the Heavens
In 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act more commonly known as the Space Act. This Act provides a new frontier for companies and commercial interests because it allows Americans to begin exploring space and taking advantage of space resources.
More Platinum on One Asteroid than Ever Mined on Earth
Three of the main areas of exploration for Space are Asteroid Mining, Tourism, and Satellites.
Asteroid Mining is estimated to be a $1 billion market where raw material is extracted from asteroids and minor planets. Reports estimate there may be more platinum on one asteroid than all the platinum that has ever been mined on Earth. Platinum along with other precious metals such as gold and silver can be returned to earth.
Legal ownership of these materials is still debated in the space law arena. Since space is an international region, some argue the Space Act violates the Outer Space Treaty and that no one can own these space minerals. However, others argue that space mining is similar to commercial fishing where companies are allowed to freely use and sell the fish and seafood they gather from the oceans. So space laws should be adapted for the same.
Iron, nickel, and cobalt from asteroids can be used to build constructions, gas stations, and buildings in space without having to launch these structures from Earth.
Theoretically, outer space colonies on the moon and mars could begin and thrive because the structures to house civilization can be built. Once further water is found in areas such as the moon, food can be grown in outer space and sustain life.
Space Babies in the next 50 Years
The first space babies could even be born, in the next 50 years, and growing up in a zero-gravity environment could have interesting medical and social effects. While these children could still have the citizenship of their parents, depending on the nation’s laws, an entire culture would develop that would be different from Earth culture.
Satellites are increasingly providing value for companies and governments.
With this projected increase of humans reaching space, space tourism is expected to begin. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company has a goal to be one of the first companies to bring tourists in space and back safely to Earth. To limit the liability of these companies, each of these potential tourists will likely sign:
• safety waivers,
• insurance contracts,
• potentially nondisclosure agreements, and much more.
These individuals will be able to take incredible pictures and likely to be able to use devices to connect to satellites as well.
Space Satellites See Better with Artificial Intelligence
As launches occur more frequently, new business opportunities have emerged such as GPS, weather, and Earth mapping.
Earth mapping has allowed companies to take pictures of the entire Earth because international law allows satellites to fly all over the globe. These images combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning can:
• increase agricultural production with farmers better predicting when to use water and fertilizer,
• provide NGOs a better understanding of the movement of refugees, and
• offer mapping companies better accuracy for directions.
With the increase in business, protection of commercial interests will be needed. In 2018, U.S. President Trump announced the proposal of Space Force. This will create another military branch of the U.S. Military. Dating back to the Navy protecting trading routes for commercial ships, the military protecting companies is a continuation of this policy.
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